THROUGHOUT LENT, I am teaching the High School Sunday School Class. Shocking, I know. I was surprised, too, when our Youth Director asked me to teach them. With all my not-so-secret love for lacy vestments, the Mass settings of Palestrina and Haydn and general fuddy-duddy churchiness, I don’t exactly scream “connects well with the kids”. Unfortunately, general consensus is that liturgical bon vivants have a hard time reaching the “youth of today” for several reasons, not least among them is the use of the phrase bon vivant. But these High Schoolers are way smarter than I ever was at their age and I have a sense that they would respond negatively to anyone who tries to talk down to them (I can still remember what it was like to be sixteen and how frustrating it was to have everybody and their brother talking down to you about everything). When one of the High Schoolers asked me to teach them the Rosary, I nearly fainted with heart palpitations of joy. Be still then, and know that I am God : I will be exalted among the heathen, and I will be exalted in the earth.
SO, WE’VE BEEN talking Liturgy. Specifically, I told them the first week that by the end of our time together, they should be able to entertain the idea that the Eucharist is the pinnacle of their week (and their lives). Last week, I began laying out my argument by talking about how the Eucharist is the supreme way that we become unified with God and each other (this was very similar to my short Christian Mysticism class). In the remaining weeks, we’ll give this idea legs by doing some Holy Calisthenics (crossing ourselves, bowing, etc.) and begin walking piece-by-piece through the Mass, all focusing on why we do what we do as Episcopalians. For example, why do we cross ourselves with our thumbs three times (on the forehead, mouth and breast) before the Gospel and why does this help our relationship with God? How does this lead to unity with God and each other?
IT IS ALL very reasonable, of course, but you should have seen some of the list of ideas that I had and shared with our Youth Director before we settled on this topic! He shot every single one of them down. In fact, I think I will share a few of them with you*:
- Marianology 101: Jesus hates you because you crucified him but His most blessed Mother thinks you’re okay.
- The Post-Mass Refreshments (Part I): How to pair wines with your favorite cheeses.
- How to Mind your Beads: why the Paters and Aves are all God cares to hear from you.
- The Post-Mass Refreshments (Part II): The Casserole, an Abomination Unto the Lord.
- On Full Participation: Why you don’t need to see the priest (due to the incense) or hear what she is saying (because the choir is singing a Mass setting by Gounod).
- The 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Rite One and Why the ’28 Said It Better, but the 1662 Said It Best.
- Frowning: The Ecstasy of Episcopalians.
- Calvinism: Why You Shouldn’t Trust Your Presbyterian Neighbor.
- Mitres, Birettas and Saturnos: Know Your Clerical Headgear.
- The Post-Mass Refreshments (Part III): The Spiritual Significance Gin, Sherry and Fish Forks.
- Tacky: The Unforgivable Sin.
OF COURSE, I would be completely prepared to talk about any of the topics supported by Frankly Unfriendly Catholics, too. But, you knew that.
*: If you need a footnote to know that this is list is a complete joke, here you go. Because, yes, this entire list is a joke. Meaning that I mean the list in jest and completely not serious. Behold, a joke this is and a bad one at that.